Home Blog & Media USAID Rules & Regulations at #OpExDC2019: Make them work for you this year

USAID Rules & Regulations at #OpExDC2019: Make them work for you this year

July 18, 2019

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Caitlin Holland

Director, Marketing & Communications, US

Has this ever happened to you? You are awarded a grant or cooperative agreement from USAID, and you receive a letter saying you need to manage your project budget in accordance with 2 CFR 200.308. What is that and how do you successfully do it?

Many Humentum members work in global development operations, and a large contingent work specifically in compliance, finance, and grants and contracts — so these instructions from USAID are familiar to some but daunting for many. We aim to demystify the regulations for operations, program and technical professionals working in global development with our suite of compliance and grants management trainings and resources. Beyond learning what you are and aren’t supposed to do, we want our members and learners to feel confident to create the right policies and procedures within their organization to structure their processes and teams in a way that keeps them efficient and compliant.

What do we mean around policies and procedures? There are five key areas where organizations need to have strong policies and procedures to guide implementation. We call these the organization’s PATHS:

  • Procurement and property
  • Accounting
  • Travel
  • Human resources
  • Subrecipient/subcontractor management

These policies and procedures are extremely important – while the USAID regulations will tell you what to do, your organization’s policies will tell you how to do it. These policies are often referred to and may even have greater weight than some regulations. A wide range of roles within an organization will benefit from a solid understanding of USAID assistance management – everyone from project managers to internal auditors to human resource managers.

I sat down recently with a Humentum member who works in compliance and has taken advantage of many Humentum roundtables and trainings to advance her knowledge in the area, including our flagship course USAID Rules & Regulations: Grants and Cooperative Agreements. Watch this video of our chat with Humentum member Patricia Westenbroek, former program manager at CRDF Global and current senior program specialist at Health Security Partners,  about her experience in our USAID Rules & Regulations course, and read some highlights below.

Caitlin Holland: What did you learn in Humentum’s USAID Rules & Regulations course? What did you get out of it as someone who is often helping partners deal with multiple awards from USG agencies?

Patricia Westenbroek: The USAID Rules & Regulations workshop defined the Uniform Guidance and Part 700 which is what USAID operates under, clarified what the differences are, and highlighted some of the overlaps or changes that can occur when funding gets mixed between different USG agencies [for one project that has multiple awards]. We can all read the regulations, but when you go through a course that covers everything through the interpretation of data practices, that’s where it kind of clicks. When you go to Humentum courses, even if you know a lot of the topic already, you still have something to gain. One person that was in the Humentum USAID Rules & Regulations course with me was attending his fifth Humentum training, and he was a Chief Financial Officer of another organization. That just demonstrates that even if you are an expert in this particular area it’s always good to network with others in the same line of work.

PW: In my particular instance we have a number of institutions that are being awarded funds from the USG for the first time and we were able to effectively communicate what those regulations were, and what changes had recently occurred that made them different. How we message that to an institution that’s not necessarily familiar with what our government regulations are, as well as explaining what’s happening to our funder because they’re wondering why the award hasn’t started– those conversations tend to be much more concerted after training, and become learning opportunities for everyone. It just improves our grant-making process well as our subaward process and the mission moves forward. For us that’s the endgame. We have all of our Is dotted and Ts crossed and the auditors are happy, which is very important!

In addition to USAID Rules & Regulations: Grants & Cooperative Agreements, Humentum offers a variety of other courses in compliance and funds management including USAID Proposal Development, USAID Subaward Management, USAID Cost Proposal: How to Build the Budget, and USAID Contract Management for NGOs (we don’t just focus on assistance!). These are offered via our open training program or in-house, where the location, timing, course content and delivery method can be tailored to an organization’s unique needs. As Humentum, in response to our member and customer needs, we’ve further expanded this portfolio of USAID grants and contracts management to more online learning options, a more accessible certification, and more affordable solutions for project teams and organizations. We also offer deep-dive consulting services on this topic and many others.

“I’ve always recommended Humentum events to my colleagues. You get energized– when you interact with people who love what they do, it creates a great working environment for everyone. Humentum creates a safe learning environment where you don’t have an auditor breathing down your neck. If you made a mistake you can correct your mistake without necessarily having any dire consequences. Some of the best ways we learn are from our mistakes, so Humentum continuing to provide a safe environment is paramount.”

Patricia Westenbroek, Humentum member, Health Security Partners 

While this is an ever-important topic for those working in global development, it’s also an ever-current area in which to continue learning. While there haven’t been any significant changes in the past year around the regulations, 2019 is a year about change in USAID’s strategy and implementation priorities. Understanding how USAID’s priorities are reflected in their regulations is an important part of understanding the regulations themselves, and as their priorities evolve, Humentum can help keep you informed.

USAID’s strategy and implementation priorities were discussed at length during and prior to OpEx DC 2019, Humentum’s annual conference that just took place last week. Humentum co-hosted an update with the Inspector General in the form of a full-day workshop on Tuesday, July 9, focused on the prevention and detection of fraud in development and humanitarian programming. This 3rd Annual Oversight Roundtable provided attendees with an overview of how USAID OIG provides oversight, as well as how it collaborates with implementers, other donors and Public International Organizations to prevent and investigate fraud. During the conference itself, Randy Tift and Roman Napoli from USAID presented on Co-Creation with USAID: Expectations, Best Practices & Lessons Learned.

Following the conference, let us know how we can help you succeed even more in your compliance roles. When I asked Patricia that, she replied “I hope that Humentum continues the work they do. It’s not just the courses, it’s other opportunities to network and interact with others regarding specific subjects. For example, the regular member roundtables with USAID’s Ombudsman. By going to the different events interacting with others we can sometimes find a solution for someone else, because we have already experienced a particular issue. Sometimes our issue is new to us, but maybe another organization is like, ‘Oh no you’re misinterpreting something,’ because we’re sharing the same definitions. Then our solutions can be readily resolved.”

Interested in becoming a Humentum member to access some of our member-only events, like roundtables and the annual conference? Learn more here. Want to send a group of staff to one of our compliance trainings? Learn what we have coming up here.